- 1 Anchovies and Its Forms: A Brief Overview
- 2 Best Anchovy Substitutes: What Are They?
- 3 Conclusion
Do you know what anchovies are? Have you ever tried them? If you ask, most people will tell you anchovies are used as a pizza topping! However, there are plenty of other ways you can eat them, even if many people don’t know about them. Now the funny thing about these little fish is that they are indeed that type of food you either love or loathe! There is no middle! What are your feelings regarding anchovies?
We have to say that we fell in love with them during our summer holidays three years ago. It is not that we didn’t like them before, but like many other people, we didn’t know all the things you can do with them. Three years ago, we spent summer vacation traveling through Spain and the Basque country. As you can imagine, we enjoyed loads of phenomenal specialties, including (guess) tapas. And we ate the best anchovies in our life! We swear we never had such a wonderful meaty little fish. They were served either plain or with olive oil and lemon juice or wine vinegar. The taste was fishy alright but more like of the sea than what you’d describe as fishy – fishy. Trust us; it was a real seafood delight!
It turned out that finding this little salty delicacy was one of those challenges. You couldn’t imagine how many stores and supermarkets we visited in our search. Yet, without success! One day, we complained to a friend who said, “Okay, I understand that you are desperate! But have you considered trying a substitute for anchovies?” A substitute? But what can be a good enough substitution for anchovies?
He explained that there are plenty of things you can use – sprat, Asian fish sauce pacific saury, herring, umeboshi, capers, etc. “It all depends on what you want to do.” The discovery was super exciting! So we decided to write about anchovy replacement and share information with you.
Anchovies and Its Forms: A Brief Overview
We believe that most of you know what anchovies are. However, for those of you who are not sure, we are going to explain. Anchovies are slender, silver little fish that people use as bait to catch bigger fish. But, of course, we also eat them. They live mainly in the Atlantic and Pacific, Black Sea, and the Mediterranean. On average, they are 8 – 10 centimeters long. Interestingly, they don’t retain the flavor for a long time after being caught. That is why they are usually exported as fillets, salted/cured, and packed in jars with oil or salt. In jars, they have a rather intense but delicious flavor. Apart from that, you can also have anchovy paste and dry anchovies.
- Fresh anchovies are an excellent source of protein. Besides that, they come with vitamin B 12, calcium, Selenium, Potassium, vitamin A. One serving of fresh anchovies contains 111 calories, 17 grams of protein, and 4 grams of fat.
- Anchovy fillets in oil contain about 25 kcal per serving. However, even if they are low-calorie food, you shouldn’t overeat because their sodium content is pretty high. One serving comes with 860mg of sodium which is 36% of recommended daily intake. They are rich in protein and calcium.
- A serving of dried anchovies comes with 160 calories, 1.5 g of fat, and 35 grams of protein. You can find dried anchovies in Asian food shops.
- Anchovy paste comes with very low calorie, but very high sodium content. One serving of 15 grams comes with 1130mg of salt. People with hypertension or risk of hypertension should limit this paste consumption.
How Anchovies Are Used in Culinary
We already mentioned that plenty of people saw anchovies on pizza. In reality, however, you can use them to do so much more. It may come as a surprise to you, but anchovies are part of many popular dishes around the world. If you come across a taste that is challenging to replace, you should know that anchovies are likely the culprit. They are part of Worchester sauce, Vietnamese, and Thai fish sauces. Believe it or not, they are also used in Caesar salad and, of course, famous pasta alla puttanesca. If you are making Caesar dressing at home and you don’t have anchovies, you can substitute them with Worchester sauce. Another option is to combine it with lemon juice, garlic, salt and pepper, mustard, and capers.
|Paste||Stew, soup, braise, Caesar dressing, meat rub|
|Canned||Toast, sandwiches, topping for potatoes, steak|
|Fresh||Sandwiches, skewers, salads, meals|
Can I Make My Anchovy Paste?
Of course, you can make anchovy paste at home. You will need two cans of anchovies, two cloves of garlic, 2 springs thyme, and 1.5 tablespoons of Dijon mustard, three tablespoons of red wine vinegar, black pepper, and two cups of olive oil. Put all the ingredients except the olive oil in the blender or food processor and blend for one minute. Add oil and oil and process until the mixture becomes smooth and thick. In case you want to make your paste, you should get informed on how much anchovy pasty equals one anchovy.
Why You May Need a Substitute?
There are plenty of reasons why you may need an anchovy replacement. Maybe you live in a small town, and you can not find anchovies on every corner. Maybe you want fresh variety, and there isn’t any in your city. It is also possible that you are vegan and vegetarian, but you like the taste of anchovies. Now you are looking for a vegan anchovy substitute. Many people asked us if there a vegetarian substitute? Yes, there is both vegan and vegetarian substitute for anchovies as you will see in examples.
Best Anchovy Substitutes: What Are They?
Worchester sauce is, of course, first on the list as an anchovy substitute! The famous sauce already contains anchovies, so it is logical that it first comes to mind when you need a replacement. People are using it, however, without having a clue what the ingredients are. This sauce is excellent when you need to put a substitute in soups or casseroles. It is even possible to put it on pizza.
It is one of the best anchovy paste equivalent options. It is made of chopped shrimps combined with salt. Usually, it goes through a fermentation process that lasts several weeks. You can often find it in Asian food shops.
It is a saltwater fish. Many people think of it as small, but actually, it can grow up to 25 – 45 cm. Like anchovies, they feed on planktons. Herring is a phenomenal anchovy fillets substitute. The taste is hard to describe, but in general, we can say that it is similar to sardine. It is an oily fish, a bit sweet and oniony. Pickled herring is the best substitute for anchovies. Make sure to use a fish fillet knife to cut them well.
Sprat refers to few species of small oily fish. They all belong to the family of herring. Generally look like mini sardines. Sprats are eaten in many parts of the world. However, in the Scandinavian countries, they are eaten as anchovies. Although when we talk about “real” anchovies we have Italian sardelli in mind, sprats are very similar in many ways, which is why they are a good substitute.
It is a saltwater fish eaten in East Asia. It is also known as mackerel pike. Saury is pretty similar to sardines but more boney. It is considered Japanese anchovy.
You were wondering, is there a vegan option, right? You can use miso or another miso substitute (soy sauce, for example) as an anchovy substitute. Miso is a paste made of fermented soybeans, and it is one of the best vegan and vegetarian substitutes for anchovy paste. It is super nutritious and guarantees to give you that wonderful umami taste you are after.
Seaweed is another vegetarian and vegan option. It can be a phenomenal substitute for anchovies in puttanesca. Seaweed comes with incredible health benefits, and it is rich in vitamins K, B, minerals such as zinc, etc.
Fish sauce is made from anchovies, so naturally, it is a perfect replacement. Generally, you can find it in all shops that sell Vietnamese or Thai food. Make sure to use it sparingly because it has a pretty strong taste. It is excellent for soups and stews, but you can use it for Caesar dressing too.
Those of you who like Japanese food probably tried umeboshi paste. It is common to use it with sushi, dips, spreads, etc. it is healthy and nutritious as it contains calcium and zinc. However, it comes with high sodium content, so you should use limited amounts.
Anchovies are definitely among the most exciting little fish you can find. They exist in different forms. And you can use them for various meals. But, finding them isn’t always simple. As you can see, there are plenty of anchovy substitutes, which can save the day in some situations! Do you know some other substitutes?